Monday, 1 January 2018

January 2018: keep your teeth!


Are there things we can we do to keep our teeth in a better state? Yes there are. Here are some tips. 

Have you heard of SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate? An ingredient in practically every toothpaste, it is actually a foaming agent which wears away the protective layer which safeguards gums, tongue and everything inside our mouths. Mouth ulcers are only some of the results of this [a].
Triclosan, another common ingredient, is a carcinogenic pesticide which disrupts our hormone system and normal breast development. As well as in toothpaste, it is now found in practically all cleaning products [b].

Though vitamin C in natural form is good for you, beware of taking tablets. In 2012 it was found that chewable vitamin C tablets, vitamin C gums and powdered supplements significantly increase dental erosion. They affect our teeth in the same way that soft drinks and orange juice do: they all contain acid, which dissolves calcium. Pills you swallow, however, are in the clear.
In general, don't brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they were acidic. Sour foods - citrus fruits, sports drinks, tomatoes, soda (both diet and regular) - can soften tooth enamel "like wet sandstone," says Howard R. Gamble, past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. Brushing speeds up acid's effect on your enamel and erodes the layer underneath. He suggests waiting 30 to 60 minutes before you brush [c].
For the same reason, try and cut down on drinks and snacks during the day. After eating, your mouth becomes acidic for roughly 40 minutes. If you snack constantly instead of sticking to regular meal times, your mouth is 60% more acidic. This dramatically increases the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.

What foods are good for your teeth? Milk, eggs, cheese and yoghurt; meat, fish, dark leafy veg; crunchy foods that contain lots of water are all excellent. But please make the milk and the cheese full-fat: see [d]! The fact that this will make you feel full so you will eat less later, is only one of the reasons - see [e].
Sweets and (diet) soft drinks are notorious, but citrus, coffee, wine, and pickles too contain acid. They are best consumed with other food, and don’t brush your teeth straight afterwards! See [f]. However, fermented and cultured foods are in the clear [g].

  • When your teeth take turns hurting, when there is decay or discoloration, this can be due to lack of calcium - or of other nutrients which help absorb it, like vitamins D, C, E, K,  magnesium and boron (h). Exercise, too, helps our bodies use the calcium we consume.
  • When teeth are just sensitive, you may be lacking vitamin D.
  • If your mouth dries out, the bacteria will cause bad breath. A drink of water, or watery veg like cucumber, celery or carrots, helps as well as some fancy mouthwash. 
  • If you knock out a tooth, don’t rinse it in water or wrap it in a tissue – you’ll kill the fragile cells that can help it survive. Lick it, stick it back into the cavity or, failing that, put it in milk – and see the dentist as fast as you can.
  • For inflamed gums, use aloe vera gel - or a leaf from the plant [i].
  • For effective toothache remedies, see [j]. Personally I just stick a clove in my mouth!
  • Should you brush before bedtime? See [k].
  • How to whiten teeth naturally - see [l].


Unfortunately there is no list of the most and least contaminated foods in Britain, so the US version has to do: see for what you can safely eat there, and what not. Britain can't be too different. 

VegBrussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For game recipes, see
Fishcoley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic. Buy heads from a proper supplier to prevent disease.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so you can get them out easily.
And check,4NFGO,JCJBU,HC8AU,1 for what else to do in the garden in January. 


Red cabbage, large onion, olive oil, large cooking apple, cider vinegar, mustard seed, (sugar).
Pull off the outer cabbage leaves and cut off the bottom. Halve, then slice thinly. Chop the onion. Sauté both for 5 minutes. Add 10 ml cider vinegar and the chopped cooking apple. Season the mixture with 1 tsp mustard seed, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 more minutes with the lid on, before serving. You may want to add a bit of sugar.

350g brussels', 1 large cooking apple, 2 minced garlic cloves, 80ml hazelnuts toasted and chopped, olive oil or butter, salt.
Slice the sprouts finely or quarter. Cut apple in wedges and sauté with the garlic for a few mins. Take out of the pan. In the same pan add some more oil/butter and sauté the sprouts. Keep the pan quite hot, and stir one or two times, not too often. Add apple/garlic and nuts, heat through and serve immediately or the flavours will change dramatically.

What to do with leftover Christmas wine?
4 leeks, 3 tbs olive oil, 240ml red wine, 2-3 tbs water, salt, pepper.
Cut up the leeks quite finely and wash. Place them in a pan that has a well-fitting cover. Add oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté, while stirring, until they just start to brown. Add wine and water. Cover the pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Check every so often and add a little more water if needed. When the leeks are tender, take off the lid and if there is still too much liquid, let most of it evaporate, so you just have some sauce left.

450g linguine or other pasta, 250g kale, (weighed after being de-stemmed); ab. 500g tinned tomatoes, butter/oil for sautéing, 6 minced garlic cloves, cayenne or chilli pepper, 80ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil, juice of 1/2-1 lemon, thyme, (black) olives, grated mature cheese, salt, pepper.
Cook pasta al dente in salted water. Drain but keep the water. Chop the kale. Sauté garlic and kale; cook for 1 min., stirring often. Add tomato, salt, red pepper, olives and cook until soft, about 4-5 mins. Add 120ml pasta water and heat thoroughly. Add cooked pasta, oil, lemon juice, thyme, and if needed, some extra cooking water. Season and mix. Put the cheese on the table for people to help themselves. 

For more recipes, see January issues from former years - click on January 2017 on the right hand side. 
Or go to, which still has eight recipes for this year. 
We also have an alphabetical index of subjects, which you will see if you click on 2017 > January, in the top right hand corner.
Next month: the thyroid. To see this now, go to and scroll down.

alphabetical index of subjects

alcohol                       Dec 14:
antibiotics                  Sep 15:
                                  Apr 17:
arthritis                      Apr 14:
brain food                  May 13:                           
bread                         May 1:
                                  Oct 16:
breakfast                   Jul 10:
                                  Aug 12:
butter                         Feb 12:
                            Apr 10:
calories                      Jan 12:
chocolate                  Jun 13:
cholesterol                Mar 10:
                                 Apr 11:
                                 Nov 13:
coughs                     Nov 14:
cravings                   Jun 12:
dairy                         Oct 17:
death                        Feb 17:
diet                          Jul 11:
                                Jan 15:
drink                        Dec 17:
                                Dec 14:
eggs                        Jan 16:
fat                            Nov 13:
                                Jun 10: 
faeces                     Sep 17:
fever                        Dec 15:
fish                          Jul 12:
insomnia                  Apr 15:
milk                          Oct 17:
                                Sep 11:
salt                         Oct 15:
                               Oct 11:
soy                         Aug 13:
stress                     Jul 14:
sugar                     May 17:                        
                              Jun 15:
                              Jul 13:
throat                      Nov 14:
urine                       Aug 16:
winter salads          Dec 10:

January 2017: eggs is eggs?


or are they?

Eggs are an excellent food. Unless your principles forbid because you’re vegan, in which case skip this bit (but take your vitamins! [1]) and go straight to: what to eat/sow in December.
Eggs are easy to eat and cook, well-tolerated by young and old, adaptable and inexpensive. The white contains high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium. The yolk offers:
  • vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. 
  • choline, essential for functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
  • lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow down progression of age-related macular degeneration. 
  • phosphorus, vitamin B12, and all nine essential amino acids [2].
Experts used to say we they should limit the number of eggs we eat because they contain cholesterol, but now it has been found that cholesterol in food does not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy people in any way [3].
However, not all eggs are created equal. 
In the UK we eat more than 12 billion eggs per year, very roughly half of which are 'cage type' eggs, meaning: not free range [4].
Just a quick search on the internet tells us that: 
  • antibiotics have been used in poultry farming in large quantities since the 1940s. The use of fluoroquinolones, classed by the World Health Organization as ‘critically important’, increased by 59% in the UK poultry industry in just one year! - despite urgent calls to reduce antibiotic usage. In general, "we are about to reach the point where more antibiotics will be consumed by farm animals worldwide than by humans,” says Mark Woolhouse, at the University of Edinburgh. Meaning: more resistant bacteria, which could be a big threat [5].
  • poultry feed can also include roxarsone or nitarsonearsenical antimicrobial drugs that also promote growth.
  • even free range hens are routinely beak-trimmed at 1 day of age, to reduce the damaging effects of aggression, feather pecking and cannibalism. In January 2016, a proposed ban on beak trimming was rejected by farming minister, George Eustice. Scientific studies shave shown that beak trimming is likely to cause both acute and chronic pain [6]. 
  • In the wild, hens would only lay 20 eggs annually; on modern farms with near constant lighting and high protein feed, this is raised to over 300. Some egg companies are pushing this number up to 500. This is 25 times as much as a chicken would lay if left alone [7].
I expect that most people who read Thought for Food, when given the choice, will buy free-range. Which is, however, rarely much better than the cage kind. Contrary to popular belief, free-range regulations only require that the hens have access to the outdoors, not that they actually spend time there. This access may be for very brief periods; the outside area may be small. Stocking densities tend to be high, and many chickens stay inside as dominant hens prevent them from going out [8].
So, I'm afraid, organic eggs are your best bet [9]. Unless you have friendly poultry-loving neighbours with a surplus like we do - or, of course, your own flock. 
All this is one more reason not to eat too much processed food. It rarely says ‘free range eggs’ in the ingredient list ….


The days are getting longer - really! Are you walking? Are you walking enough? Walking helps for all sorts of things. How and why, see


And another one: Prof. Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England, told MPs that children are 12 times more likely to contract drug-resistant infections in the three months after being prescribed antibiotics, suggesting that their current use poses a direct risk to individual patients as well as a broader threat to society as a whole.


VegBrussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see
Fishcoley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic. Buy heads from a proper supplier to prevent disease.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.

Still feeling antsy? Check,4NFGO,JCJBU,HC8AU,1 for what else to do in the garden in January. 


Brussel’s sproutsmash with parmesan and cream, or fry with garlic and almonds.
Or stir them up, when cooked and hot, with finely chopped rosemary, crispy bacon and crumbled chestnuts. Season well with pepper.

BAGNA CAUDA - will feed lots as a starter. Not expensive, though it’s worth using the best quality of anchovies you can find.
One jar of anchovies, boiled potatoes, cabbage, eggs, celery, endive. You can replace the endive by salady winter greens, or lightly cooked ones.
Melt anchovies in olive oil and butter. Fill plate with sliced potatoes, thin wedges of raw cabbage, wedges of soft-boiled egg, lightly boiled celery, and leaves of endive. Spoon the anchovy sauce over as you eat it.

4-5 eggs, kale, mushrooms, 50g Somerset brie. You can add some ginger if you like. 
Sauté kale and mushrooms until wilted - don't overcook. Beat the eggs and pour into a pan over medium-low heat. Once they start to cook, put the brie, followed by the veg, over half of the eggs. When the eggs are set, flip half over the veg. Cook for another few mins until the middle is set. Cut in half and serve on a plate with the remaining sautéed vegetables.

1-1½ leek(s), potatoes, egg(s), spices/herbs, grated cheese.
Cook the chopped leek and 100-200g chopped potatoes. Beat an egg or two with spices (pepper, salt, paprika powder, mustard, for instance) and some grated cheese. When the veg are both done (make sure the potatoes are nice and soft), drain and put together.
Pour a tiny bit of the drained liquid in with the egg, and stir this into the potato/leek mix. Heat the whole lot through, till the egg is reasonably solid. Serve.
If you like, you can first fry up the whole lot for a few minutes, as a sort of pancake. 

For more December recipes, see other years (click on 2016 and then on December, on the right hand side). Or go to, which does have eight recipes for this year. 


[1] Especially taking vitamin B12, cobalamin, is vital, for you can only get this usefully from animal foods. It will take up take up to 5 years, but once you have been short of it for a while, you can never undo the damage. At only slightly low levels it will cause fatigue, depression, poor memory. Later deficiency can affect the peripheral nerves, leading to loss of sensation/weakness in the legs, spinal chord problems, mood change, loss of memory, and early dementia.
Take vitamin B12 away from vitamin C, for this degrades it. So even if it is in your multivitamin, take some separate as well! 
[3] Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body.
The trouble is that "cholesterol," is used to describe two different things. The fat-like molecules in animal-based foods like eggs doesn't greatly affect the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. Your body makes its own cholesterol, so it doesn't need much of the kind you eat. Instead, what fuels your body's cholesterol-making machine is certain saturated and trans fats. Eggs contain relatively small amounts of saturated fat. So, cutting eggs out of your diet is a bad idea; they're a rich source of 13 vitamins and minerals.

Next month: death. If you want to see this now, go to